MINE HILL, NJ – A local man, who received a new deck on his house in 2013 from an organization that helps veterans, fabricated most of his military record in order to get it, and now faces up to five years in prison, according to police.
The man, Robert Guidi, 66, was not – as he’d claimed - a prisoner of war in Vietnam, did not reach the rank of captain and wasn’t the recipient of two purple hearts, said police.
In his successful “Deck for a Soldier” application with the North American Deck and Railing Association, Guidi had claimed a glorious and traumatic wartime record, one that included receiving CIA training, experiencing brutal hand-to-hand combat in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, spending nine months in a cage as a POW, receiving a field commission to the rank of captain and being awarded a bronze star, two purple hearts and a silver star.
Police began checking out Guidi’s background after being alerted that most of Guidi’s claimed military accomplishments were fabrications, said Wharton Police Lt. David Young. Wharton provides police coverage for Mine Hill.
“The investigation showed that Mr. Guidi was never a POW and that he was discharged as a Private First Class,” said Young. “Mr. Guidi was charged with Theft by Deception and violation of the New Jersey Stolen Valor Act.”
Guidi was placed in the Morris County jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, said the lieutenant.
In 2014, Guidi told a local newspaper that he has terminal cancer from exposure to Agent Orange. In the article, Guidi spoke about the negative way he was treated upon returning home from his valorous tour of duty in Southeast Asia.
He reportedly expressed dismay at the way he was treated by the Veterans Administration: “As a result, Guidi did not talk about his experience in Vietnam,” said the story. “He even went so far as to burn the medals he was given, including the Medal of Valor, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.”
Guidi’s background was probed by This Ain’t Hell , a blog that investigates “phony” claims of military glory. “I have about 8,000 readers across the country and they’re always on the lookout for these guys,” said This Ain’t Hell blogger Jonn Lilyea.
He said he got Guidi’s records from the National Personnel Records Center and found that Guidi, while indeed a Vietnam veteran, served as a postal clerk.
Lilyea said he is “conflicted” about the award of the deck to Guidi since Guidi was, indeed, a veteran. “Mr. Guidi was actually a Vietnam veteran,” he said “He did go to Vietnam and did what many people of his generation didn’t do. It doesn’t give me that much joy to bust him.”
Under the New Jersey Stolen Valor Act, it is illegal in New Jersey to impersonate a veteran or member of the military by wearing a uniform medal or insignia “for the purpose of obtaining money, property or another benefit.” The crime carries a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and up to five years in prison.